Mapping Paris

Description of the Barricades from Les Miserables

Site Home
Mapping Home

Realities vs. Representations
Hugo's Paris
The Real Paris

A City Divided
Paris & Politics
Cultural Paris
Streets of Paris

Gas Lights

Space & Money






"The barricade Saint Antoine was monstrous; it was three stories high and seven hundred feet long. It barred from one corner to the other the vast mouth of the Faubourg, that is to say, three streets; ravined, jagged, notched, abrupt, indented with an immense rent, buttressed with mounds which were themselves bastions, pushing out capes here and there, strongly supported by the two great promontories of houses of the Faubourg, it rose like a cyclopean embankment at the foot of the terrible square which saw the 14th of July. Nineteen barricades stood at intervals along the streets in the rear of this mother barricade. Merely from seeing it, you felt in the Faubourg the immense agonizing suffering which had reached that extreme moment when distress rushes into catastrophe. Of what was this barricade made? Of the ruins of three six-story houses, torn down for the purpose, said some. Of the prodigy of all passions said others. It had the woeful aspect of all the works of hatred: Ruin. You might say: who built that? You might also say: who destroyed that? It was the improvisation of ebullition. Here! that door! that grating! that shed! that casement! that broken furnace! that cracked pot! Bring it all! throw on all! push, roll, dig, dismantle, overturn, tear down all! It was the collaboration of the pavement, the pebble, the timber, the iron bar, the chip, the broken square, the stripped chair, the cabbage stump, the scrap, the rag, and the malediction. It was great and it was little. It was the bottomless pit parodied upon the spot by chaos come again. The mass with the atom; the side was all thrown down and the broken dish; a menacing fraternization of all rubbish. Sisyphus had cast in his rock and Job his potsherd. Upon the whole, terrible. It was the acropolis of the ragamuffins. Carts overturned roughened the slope; an immense dray was displayed there, crosswise, the axle pointing to the sky, and seemed a scar upon the tumultuous facade; an omnibus, cheerily hoisted by main strength to the very top of the pile, as if the architects of that savagery would add sauciness to terror, presented its unharnessed pole to unknown horses of the air. " (Hugo 1014-1015)

[Back to The Streets of Paris: Pavement]

This page maintained by your Friendly Neighborhood Mappers.